George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Charles Carter of Ludlow, 19 May 1792

To Charles Carter of Ludlow

Mount Vernon, May 19th 1792.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 30th ultimo was on its way to Philadelphia whilst I was on my journey to this place—owing to which I did not receive it until it reverberated—this must be my apology for not giving the receipt of it an earlier acknowledgment.

It would give me pleasure to receive your Son into my family, if it could be made tolerably convenient to me—or if any advantage was likely to result from it to the young Gentleman himself. I was in no real want even of Howell Lewis, but understanding that he was spending his time rather idly, and at the same time very slenderly provided for by his father, I thought for the few months which remained to be accomplished of my own servitude, by taking him under my care, I might impress him with ideas, and give him a turn to some pursuit or other that might be serviceable to him hereafter;1 but what that will be I am at present as much at a loss to decide as you would be—for as the heads of the different departments have by law the appointment of their own Clerks2—are responsible for the conduct of them—are surrounded always with applicants—and, I presume, have their own inclinations and friends to gratify: I never have, in a single instance, and I am pretty sure I shall not now begin, recommending any one to either of them.

My family, now Howell is admitted into it, will be more than full, and in truth more than is convenient for the House, as Mr Dandridge (a Nephew of Mrs Washington’s) is already one of it. and but one room for him, Howell and another person to sleep in, all the others being appropriated to public or private uses.

If your Son Charles is of age, and it should be yours and his own inclination to pursue a military course—I would, if any vacancy should happen (at present there is none) in one of the Regiments endeavour to place him therein.3 You will perceive I have made age the condition—the reason is, it is established as a rule in the War Office to appoint none knowingly, that are under it. My best respects to Mrs Carter. I am &c. &c.

Go: Washington.


1For the appointment of Howell Lewis to GW’s official “family,” see GW to Betty Washington Lewis, 8 April, Howell Lewis to GW, 24 April, which is printed as a note to Betty Lewis to GW, 19 April, and Betty Lewis to GW, 14 May 1792.

2Section 2 of “An act for establishing the salaries of the Executive Officers of Government, with their assistants and clerks” of 11 Sept. 1789 reads in part: “That the heads of the three departments . . . shall appoint such clerks therein respectively as they shall find necessary” (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 1st Cong., 1st sess., 2233).

3For Charles Landon Carter’s desire to study medicine, rather than entering on a military career, see Charles Carter to GW, 26 May 1792.

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